Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 Customer of the Year Award

It has always quietly amazed me how easily Mum & Gra attract happy people, & make cranky ones into happier ones. I comment all the time to people (who think, I think, that I'm just making it all up) about how they can walk into anywhere (I particularly notice restaurants) & are either greeted like old friends, or walk out with new ones. There are places all over the country with people who spend days in hard work for little pay, dealing with customer after customer, hundreds of people passing through their lives on a regular basis. And yet, some magic happens when Mum & Gra appear. Faces light up, the mood gets better.. and the service, too! Let me tell you... Graham's notions of good service aren't in the least slack, either - we may have hastened his sordid decline into the sloppy Americanized English language, but he has certainly retained his high standards where service is concerned. Somehow, he almost always gets it.

It really isn't much... they just always have a ready smile, a small familiar way of speaking to a person that makes them seem like... well... a person. I don't know that I've ever in my life seen them look at another person as though their only purpose in life is to serve like an automaton. But it makes such an ENORMOUS difference! I have personally experienced the restaurant phenomena with them... and a year later, gone back to the same place, happened to get the same waitress... and she remembered them. Utterly amazing. They are the quintessential representation of the pebbles that make those ongoing ripples in the proverbial pond.

2006 Customer of the Year Award - Morning Star Cafe in Salisbury, IL.

Well... here's proof in the pudding so you all don't think I'm just spinning tales. Today, they stopped by a little cafe in Salisbury, IL (NOT their hometown) that they visit from time to time on their travels. Completely out of the blue, they were presented with this little scroll signed by all the waitresses announcing that they have been chosen the 2006 "Customers of the Year" & it was accompanied by a whole fresh homemade rhubarb pie. Probably ice cream, too, if I know them.

If there are things we inherit from our parents, whether it be via nurture or nature, I can't think of much I'd like to receive & retain from mine more than this: the ability to attract & retain good people to surround us, & make the lives I touch - even briefly - just a little brighter.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Beleaguered by a Plea

You are my partner
hear my pain
I lay it here between us
not an accusation
nor to damn nor flay
but in supplication
in utter trust
That we between us
can fix any grievous wound

If you feel daggers,
it is only the sharp edges
of my wounded soul
I have been unable to heal
on my own
& I come to you begging
in sure knowledge
& trust that
you can heal my pain
that together we can right
whatever is wrong

If my tears wound your soul
no more so does your
wounded soul bring my tears.
We are one
I am yours
Let us heal us

~~ more napkin scribbles, Nov/Dec 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

12/26/2006 -- Not Muggles, but Middles

There it is. I have hunted after it, elusive. Chased it as it skittered from my sight around a corner just a handsbreadth away. Tonight, I looked askance, and there it was! Why is being in the middle truly so much different than any other place? It is, you know. And for some reason, almost everyone avoids it. Everyone wants to be on the edge of things - included, but able to bail - gets edgy when they're forced to the middle, no matter how pleasant the middle may be made. And Oh, the middle may be pleasant indeed! So why? Why back away from it as though it holds something worth fearing?

Because in the middle, there is no escape. You are always and only at the mercy of those on either side of you. If you are lucky, it is a tender mercy. They at any time have the power to turn towards or away from you. Include or shun you either deliberately or with stunning indifference. It takes courage to stand in the middle day after day. (and a certain willingness to glut oneself in pleasant indulgence.. but courage too!) And perhaps a certain sublimation of self as well. Others can turn to reach away from the center for the peace & darkness of nothingness whenever the need for a breath overtakes them. But in the middle, you must be prepared to meet and match all that comes your way... or does not. And while you can accept it from others, there is no nothingness towards which you can actively turn for silence and surcease at times of your choosing. Your only real choice is to turn towards another. When in the middle, even the choice of not-deciding a direction is really no choice, because not-deciding assumes the position of openness to all.

Of course.. you can just absent yourself completely. So I guess I'm wrong: there is a choice - in. or out. There just is no inbetween. Ironic, that! That for the person in the middle, there can be no inbetween. No place to put that one-foot-on-the-floor-ready-to-run. Only a certainty that you are either out... or in.

Bah! Ramblings of a madwoman!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Milkweed Pods & Memories

Out of all the Christmas ornaments that come out every year, my favorite are the milkweed pods. I can remember Mom sending me down the road in Decembers past in search of the milkweed that grew in the ditches alongside our rural roads. Teardrop-shaped, grey, & rough on the outside when dry, they split into halves & inside is a child’s handful of uber-soft, silky threads, each with a tiny seed attached. In the way of nature, the wind will catch the threads, lofting the tiny seeds into the air so that they can go, spread, find fertile soil to propagate. The pods halves, clean & dry, make pretty little shells for small simple vignettes. I have several, the background of each half carefully painted, maybe a little lace or ribbon framing the edges, and a small tiny-tree ornament glued securely inside the frame of the pod. My most favorite of all is a rather odd, squat-shaped pod with the background painted green & a tiny bit of gold ribbon framing the edges. Inside, Mum glued a small bit of moss & on it, tiny legs folded underneath as it curls into its snug safe haven is a tiny baby deer. Every single time I look at it I get a soft sense of adoration & a strange sense of security. I couldn’t find it when I got the ornaments out this year – I don’t know if maybe the kids put it on the tree & I will find it when the season is over… or if I put it somewhere special for safe keeping & that box simply did not come down – but even it’s only in my memory, that one ornament does more for me in terms of heralding the season than any other bit of fancy to grace any wall, tree, or ground anywhere else.

For some reason, I don’t remember actually making any of these – perhaps I was too young the last time Mum made milkweed pod ornaments to actually help with the paint or the glue or the scissors, I’m not sure. But I wonder if, when Mum’s email today said that she was making milkweed pods, she was thinking of making a bit of fancy for each of the grandkids… carrying past into future, in her own special way. I hope so. I like the thought that someday B will find within her the same sense of being loved & loving from the same reminders that trigger those things for me. We do, after all, when our bodies wear out & we are gone from this world, go on in the minds and hearts of those who love us.